Found this nugget from an old BB press conference. Interesting to hear him talk about the two offensive systems that he doesn’t use. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true, there are surely concepts from these offenses that BB has plucked for his own modified version of the Erhardt-Perkins offense.
Q: The “Air Coryell” offense of the early eighties, was that an extension of what Paul Brown came up with?
BB: Yeah. I would say it’s an extension, yes. I would say it would come from that tree.
Q: Do you ever look back and study the tape of what Paul Brown did and use that in your offense at all?
BB: Well, again, basically what Paul [Brown] did was he ran the west coast offense. What’s called today the west coast offense, that was really Paul’s offense. As that has spread through the league. There are a lot of different versions of it, from [Mike] Holmgren, who is probably the purist. His offense is probably most like what San Francisco ran back in the ‘80s with Bill Walsh. Then you have Andy [Reid] and Jon Gruden, all the different offshoots that come out of that, [Mike] McCarthy, basically the whole NFC North, right? Green Bay. So, there’s a lot of offshoots of that and they have their own individual adaptations of it. For example, I-Formation was a very minimal part of that offense as Bill Walsh ran it, not as Paul Brown ran it. Paul ran a lot of “I” when he had [Paul] Robinson and Ickey [Woods] and those guys. He ran a lot of that I-Formation. So each coach has modified it a little bit.
Q: Is what [Don] Coryell ran considered the west coast offense?
BB: No. I think there are elements of it, yeah, but it was a much more downfield passing game and less replacing runs with those drive routes, the underneath crossing patterns, the wide routes by the backs, a lot of slants, the plays that come with a high frequency in the west coast offense. A lot of those are really replacements for runs. The Coryell passing attack is much more of a downfield passing game.
Q: When you went up against that, how did you try to stop it?
BB: The Coryell teams? Well Don’s offense when he was out at San Diego, that was one of the most explosive offenses I had seen, and still have. They had Kellen Winslow, Chuck Muncie and then the receivers were [Wes] Chandler, [John] Jefferson and [Charlie] Joiner. And they had Dan Fouts and they also had a real good offensive line, too. They were good. Then Joe Gibbs really took the Coryell offense, which was mainly a one-back offense -as opposed to the west coast offense, which had some one back but it was really more of a two-back offense than a one-back offense-and Gibbs took the Coryell system and, obviously, when he went to Washington, had great success with it. Then that spread to Dan Henning and Joe Bugel and guys like that who went on to be head coaches and took that offense with them. I think that the Joe Gibbs offense is much closer related to the Coryell offense than the west coast offense is.
Q: If the Coryell Chargers had won that 41-38 game against the Dolphins, would that have changed how that offense was used moving forward?
BB: I don’t know. I don’t think anyone ever thought that offense wasn’t a good offense, whether they had scored 38 in that game or 44. But a lot of that goes with other teams hiring people from that system or leaving it and going to the next team and taking the offense with them. It’s like what we’ve seen out of San Diego this year. We of course played the Jets, which was [Brian] Schottenheimer, then we played San Diego, which actually wasn’t San Diego, it was Norv Turner, but it was San Diego because there was a lot of carryover there. Then we played Buffalo, which was San Diego, and then we played Cleveland, which was [Rob] Chudzinski, and that was San Diego. Now we’re playing Cam [Cameron] and that’s San Diego. The Norv influence between San Diego and Dallas with [Jason] Garrett there, in seven games we’ve had a lot of similarity in the offensive systems that we’ve seen, predominantly San Diego but to an extent the Norv Turner system, which is somewhat similar to the San Diego system. Again, that is a function of those coordinators and head coaches going from one system into another and taking it with them. That’s just like it was with [Bill] Walsh, [George] Seifert, [Mike] Holmgren, [Jon] Gruden, Ray Rhodes and then all the other disciples that have come through, too, like [Mike] McCarthy and those guys, Dennis Green. They all took the west coast with them. So it was prevalent and in terms of league-wide it was used in high percentages throughout the season. I can’t remember exactly how the Coryell system went, but my sense of it was that it didn’t break apart too much. Now when Gibbs went to Washington then it was Dan Henning, although his coaches stayed together for the most part for quite a while. Bugel went to Arizona. Who else? But [Don] Coryell and Sid Gillman, that was a very well thought out and excellent passing system with a lot of production.